Communications Blog • 5 MIN READ

Building operational resilience

Written by Jason Barker

I recently posted on the role of resilient leadership during difficult times to enable not just survival, but transformation, growth and innovation within organizations. If leadership is indeed effective and resilient, one of the critical things it will facilitate is operational resilience – which is what we’re going to look at in a little more depth in this blog.

Operational resilience is the ability of an enterprise to continue its services in the face of crisis. Recent events have placed some major roadblocks in the path of operational resilience in almost every area of society.

Businesses of all types, and their technology infrastructures, are being tested to their limits. Governments are intervening in response to the pandemic, meaning that businesses need to rapidly adjust to the needs of their employees, customers, and suppliers – while carefully navigating the financial and operational challenges.

The phrase ‘the new normal’ is now part of the workplace vernacular right across the globe, as we rely more and more on communication technology, analytics, and data insights to keep us working.

To successfully build operational resilience, businesses need to consider 4 key principles:

  • Anticipation
  • Prevention
  • Recovery
  • Adaption

For most organizations, the biggest challenges involve adapting their existing operational and technology infrastructures to the increasing complexity of processes like remote working.

An operational resilience plan must be structured alongside an organization’s overall strategy so that it can drive investment as well as day-to-day decisions. This means that instead of businesses being efficiency-driven, we now need to be resiliency-driven to maintain business continuity.

With careful consideration, we’ve identified some of the most tangible actions your organization can take to turn complex into meaningful change.

Resilience in business strategy

Out of sheer necessity, leaders are focusing on the present. This means supporting their workers, customers and suppliers as well as developing response strategies to deal with supply chain disruption.

To build new growth pathways, leaders will quickly need to turn their attention to the immediate future and what comes next in a period of unpredictability and subdued economic recovery. This will be a new era, defined by rapid changes in societal behaviours, values and cultural norms.

Operational resilience means changing mindsets from top-down decision-making, to empowering teams. These teams will be guided by purpose, data driven, technology powered, and enabled by cloud for faster speed to market.

It calls for doing away with rigid structures that accentuate territory and control - and creating a permeable organisation with modules that interchange. The new way forward means organizations will be capable of dynamic self-management and continual adaptation for agility, resiliency and growth.

Reinvention

To circumvent the uncertainty and complexity of getting businesses up and running again, leaders need to adopt a program of reinvention. This presents a great opportunity for many businesses to build and focus on the competencies they may have neglected or at the very least not re-assessed for some time, such as:

  • Teamwork
  • Commercial awareness
  • Decision making
  • Communication
  • Leadership
  • Results orientation

Reinvention also encompasses the need…

  • To be more digital, data-driven and in the cloud.
  • To have more variable cost structures.
  • To incorporate more agile operations including automation.
  • To strengthen their position in eCommerce and security.

Incorporating these factors will help organizations in the wider transformation process.

Resilience in the workforce

Leaders play an important role in creating an agile workforce. This entails helping people and organizations to navigate the massive workforce shifts that have become a way of life. They need to address the urgent need to guide their people through the transition to remote working and to protect and empower employees so that they can continue to drive business continuity.

Partnering people with opportunities

To this end, opportunities are arising for Human Resources and consultancy firms such as Accenture, McKinsey and Infosys to join forces in creating programs to keep people in paying work.

Organizations, governments, workers, and non-profits all play critical roles in establishing systems-minded, human-centred strategies that promote shared workforce resilience. These strategies need to fit into today’s needs, but also be capable of evolving along with the global health and economic environment. The task requires the ongoing development of relationships and collaborations across stakeholder groups.

Resilience for customers

Companies are now being forced to move quickly to serve their customers with quality. This entails re-evaluating the way they leverage contact centres, how employees deliver appropriate customer experiences and how digital channels can be used to support business continuity now and in the future.

Consumers have changed how – and what – they buy, and this is accelerating huge structural changes in many business sectors. The pandemic has caused a massive pivot towards digital commerce and online shopping, creating new services like curb-side pickup and ‘contactless’ delivery. Organizations will need to revisit and possibly reinvent their digital strategies to capture new marketplace opportunities and digital consumer groups in the future.

Resilience through data insight

Given that the ‘new normal’ is almost solely technology-based and data driven, organizations need access more than ever to comprehensive real-time insights and analytics throughout their operations. Communications, payments and IT infrastructures depend on it.

Topics: Communications Customer experience

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